Does Makeup Expire? Knowing When to Throw Makeup Away is as Important as Knowing How to Put it On


Knowing when to throw your makeup away does not mean you are ready to go barefaced into the world. It means you have realized that cosmetics have a limited shelf-life and should be thrown away after they expire. When makeup is exposed to air, it begins to dry out or change consistency with each use. While this does not happen overnight, it does continue and often cosmetics must be thrown away before they are completely used. Even though makeup contains preservatives to prolong their usefulness, by being exposed to light, heat and bacteria (from our hands, applicators, etc.), makeup will deteriorate, lose its effectiveness and can create skin problems if used after it expires.


It is easier to tell when some makeup is past its prime because it will change in smell, color or texture. However, most products do not give you such clear signals to know when they should be thrown away. Because expiration dates are not required for makeup, individuals should know the general guidelines regarding when to throw makeup away.Some general guidelines for telling if it is time to throw away makeup:

Smell: Just with food, if it smells bad throw it away. It is like spoiled milk, it may look okay but the smell is a dead giveaway.

Appearance: If your makeup has changed in appearance, throw it away. If you see any black spots (which could be bacteria growing), if the ingredients have separated or if the color has changed it is time to toss it out.

Consistency: If your cream foundation or creme eye shadow is dry and cracked, this is a definite sign that it is time to replace them. Products will change consistency when they have lost their effectiveness. If makeup looks very thick or thin, it is probably an indicator it is time trash it.

Some cosmetics have a suggested expiration dates on the containers. For example, many foundations now have “12M” on the container meaning that you should throw away any remaining product twelve months after you first open the container. The products below generally have these suggested expiration dates:

Mascara – replace every 3 months due to the risk of bacteria from applicator

Eye shadow – 14 to 18 months

Eyeliner – 18 months

Liquid Eyeliner – 6 months due to the applicator and the product

Foundation and concealer – 12 months

Powder, blush  amp; bronzer – 18 months

Creme blush – 12 months

These are just guidelines for when you should throw your makeup away after opening the container for the first time. These dates vary according to the source; nonetheless, they are a good indication of how long you should keep makeup before tossing it out.